Frankly, it hasn’t been a good week for Mets pitching. Jacob deGrom had his worst week since 2017. Jason Vargas didn’t make it out of the first inning and Corey Oswalt followed him with a poor performance of his own. The rest of the starting rotation fared much better, but the bullpen remains an issue, despite bounce back weeks from Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman.
Let’s start with the bad and the ugly this week. Jason Vargas had one relief appearance and one start this week. Both were disastrous. After the Mets fell behind big on Tuesday due to deGrom’s rough outing, Vargas pitched the ninth inning in relief, available due to the fact that his turn in the rotation was skipped. He gave up four runs in the inning, putting the game further out of reach. He was also charged with four runs in his start on Saturday, when he failed to make it out of the first inning. He recorded just one out, a long sacrifice fly off the bat of Freddie Freeman.
Corey Oswalt, freshly up from Triple-A in place of Tim Peterson, came in to try to mop up Vargas’ mess and didn’t fare much better. He gave up a single with the bases loaded and one out and both of those runs were charged to Vargas. But he then induced an inning-ending double play and the Mets were able to tie the game in the bottom of the first and give Oswalt a clean slate. But he couldn’t hold the Braves there and surrendered a four spot in the second inning. The final damage was five runs on six hits and four walks over just 3 2⁄3 innings. Oswalt was promptly demoted again in favor of Paul Sewald.
Sewald made his first appearance in last night’s game. It started off well for Sewald, as he came in to bail out Justin Wilson in sixth inning and struck out Ronald Acuna Jr. to end the inning. But in the seventh he surrendered a leadoff walk and an RBI double to put a slight damper on his night.
Last night was Justin Wilson’s first truly horrible outing of the season. deGrom struggled, but kept the Mets within striking distance. But the Braves were able to add two insurance runs against Wilson in the form of a two-run homer off the bat of Charlie Culberson. After the homer, Wilson walked two batters in a row with two outs, which required Sewald to come in to record the last out of the inning. Wilson did, however, contribute a scoreless inning to Friday night’s win in relief of Zack Wheeler.
I guess here is where we have to discuss Jacob deGrom’s week. When I do these meters every week, I pull up the trusty Mets Fangraphs page and filter for the last seven days. By default, it sorts by fWAR. Every week, I was used to seeing deGrom’s name at the top for pitchers, without fail. This week, jarringly, it was at the very bottom (yes, even below Jason Vargas): -0.3 fWAR. It is certainly poop emoji worthy and if this were based solely on Tuesday’s start, it very well may have been the first poop emoji I have ever had to issue deGrom. But last night, while still not great, was an improvement. While on Tuesday, deGrom only struck out three batters in four innings while surrendering six runs and getting hit extremely hard, he did fan nine batters last night. He was only able to get through five innings due to the many deep counts and four free passes, but he gave the Mets a chance to win the game and that allows him to dodge the poop emoji by the slimmest of margins.
Alright, all of that was very depressing, so let’s move on to the good news: the rest of the Mets rotation besides their ace and their beleaguered fifth starter had quite a good week. Zack Wheeler had his best start of the season on Friday. He wasn’t dominant the way we saw in the second half last season, but he got the job done. He gave up two runs on six hits through six innings of work and struck out eight batters, earning the win.
After Wilson pitched a scoreless seventh, Seth Lugo pitched the final two innings and cruised, giving up just one hit. It was a bounce back week for Lugo, who had been dealing with illness and looking very unlike himself. But his stuff was working on Friday. Lugo also pitched two innings in relief of deGrom in Tuesday’s ill-fated game, giving up a solo homer to Jonathan Schoop.
Noah Syndergaard’s final pitching line didn’t show it, but he was fantastic in Wednesday’s victory against the Twins. He threw just 87 pitches through seven innings and so he came back out for the eighth inning. But he gave up three consecutive hits to lead off the inning and all three would come around to score, resulting in him being charged with four runs instead of one. He struck out seven batters and didn’t walk a batter in the outing. Thankfully, the Mets had enough of a cushion to absorb the blow, thanks to the absurd number of walks issued by Twins pitching that day and Syndergaard came away with the victory.
Jeurys Familia followed Syndergaard and struggled, necessitating the use of Edwin Diaz in Wednesday’s game. He came in and allowed two straight hits and a walk, allowing his inherited baserunner to score. He bounced back and induced a double play (which scored another run) and another groundout to end the inning. Familia did earn a hold in Thursday’s victory for his 2⁄3 of an inning of work in the eighth. But he looked shaky again last night, giving up a run on a walk and two hits in the ninth inning.
For his part, Edwin Diaz continues to roll. He gave up a solo homer to Mitch Garver in the ninth inning on Wednesday, but the Mets had a safe enough lead that it was not consequential. Diaz earned his fifth save of the season on Thursday, working around two hits and striking out two.
That save secured the victory for Steven Matz, who has arguably been the Mets’ best starting pitcher overall this season so far. He and Dave Eiland have made some adjustments this year, including shifting him to the opposite side of the rubber, and it’s paying dividends so far for Matz. He tossed six innings on Thursday, giving up two runs on four hits, walking one and striking out eight.
Robert Gsellman, who has struggled in the early part of the season, pitched a scoreless seventh in relief of Matz in what was a bounce back outing for him. Overall, it was a mixed week for Gsellman. He gave up three runs on Tuesday, but none of them were earned due to an error by Pete Alonso. That said, Gsellman was still hit hard and gave up a home run to Jorge Polanco in the inning. He also logged two innings of work on Saturday after Vargas’ abbreviated outing. He struck out four batters, but gave up a solo homer to Josh Donaldson.
It was also a week of mixed results for Luis Avilan. Even though he was brought on as the left-handed specialist, strain on the bullpen has forced him to work full innings or sometimes even multiple innings, mostly to his detriment. He also pitched two innings on Saturday, giving up a run on four hits. He logged a scoreless inning of relief of deGrom on Tuesday, working around a hit and a walk. He gave up a solo homer to Ronald Acuna Jr. in the eighth inning of Thursday’s game after getting the lefty Freeman to fly out. But Familia recorded the other two outs of the inning to preserve the lead.